The government will prioritize adolescents with comorbidities in its Covid-19 pediatric vaccination, which officials said will start in mid-October.
Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, chairman of the national vaccination operations center, said the government’s inoculation efforts for children will begin among those aged 12 to 17 who have illnesses and residing in Metro Manila, as they will be included in the A3 priority group.
“Our target is to start this by 15 October. We will start in the National Capital Region because its vaccination coverage is quite good,” she told reporters in a media briefing.
After two weeks, the Philippines’ Covid-19 pediatric vaccination will be expanded to other regions, Cabotaje added.
Children and their parents or guardians should sign consent forms for the vaccination. The minors should also present medical certificates signed by doctors as proof of their health conditions.
Those in far-flung areas need to secure a clearance from on-site trained physicians guided by a checklist from the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines before they can receive Covid-19 jabs, said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, who is also spokesperson of the health department.
“We have to ensure that children have equitable access to vaccines. Eventually, as we get more local experience, we will be able to retool our current vaccinators on the additional precautionary steps on screening and vaccine administration,” Vergeire said through a statement sent to the media.
“Considering that the risks of contracting severe Covid-19 infection or dying from Covid-19 is significantly lower for healthy children, it follows that the benefits from vaccination relative to the risk of a healthy child is also lower, compared to a sick child, adult or senior citizen,” she added.
The jabs manufactured by American pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna will be used for 12- to 17-year-olds since these are the only brands which have so far secured an emergency use authorization for the said age group.
Malacañang announced on Tuesday that President Rodrigo Duterte had approved the vaccination of minors against Covid-19 starting October as authorities have been seeking to protect more people against more infectious coronavirus variants.
At present, the country’s immunization program covers five priority groups, including health workers (A1), the elderly (A2), people with health risks (A3), essential workers (A4), and indigents (A5).
The vaccination of the general population will likely begin by the end of October or early November, according to the health department.